WHEATON, Ill. -- How the history books will judge Wheaton Warrenville South’s 2010 team will largely depend on how the Tigers fare in the playoffs.
Whether Wheaton Warrenville South can repeat as Class 7A state champions won’t be known until late November. But through eight weeks of regular-season play, it’s hard not to start measuring this year’s Tigers with some of the best teams in recent Illinois history.
On Friday, No. 1 Wheaton Warrenville South continued to make a case for itself as it ran away with a 49-6 win over No. 6 Glenbard North, giving the Tigers their fifth lopsided victory over a ranked opponent this season.
“I would tell you that this is a very good football team,” Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch said. “With Reilly [O’Toole] at the quarterback healthy, we’re a pretty special team. We can do a lot of things with his leadership and our senior leadership. We got a lot of weapons, and all the weapons contribute. Week in and week out, you’ve been able to see that.”
Glenbard North (7-1) was thought to be the best team that the Tigers (8-0) have faced this season. The Panthers had come into Friday’s game undefeated with wins over three ranked opponents and was ranked among the best defenses in the state.
Early on, the Panthers did hang with Wheaton Warrenville South. They put together two solid drives to start off the game, one resulting in a five-yard touchdown pass from Mark Ng to Mark Szwan, and had forced the Tigers to punt after three unsuccessful plays on their opening drive.
After one quarter, Glenbard North was winning 6-0, and it appeared as if Wheaton Warrenville South was going to be in for its first real fight of the season.
“It was kind of a slow start,” O’Toole said. “We want to emphasize to get on a fast start. That’s what we got to work on for next week. We don’t want to get in a hole.”
That changed quickly, though, on Friday.
Tigers running back Matt Rogers put his team ahead 7-6 with a touchdown with 10:28 left in the second quarter. One drive later, O’Toole hooked up with Travis Kern for a four-year touchdown to go ahead 14-6. After forcing Glenbard North into fumble, the Tigers capitalized with a 15-yard touchdown pass from O’Toole to Titus Davis with 48.8 seconds remaining. Then on the kickoff, Adam Dansdill stole the ball cleanly from the Panthers’ kick returner and carried it into the end zone with 40.2 seconds remaining.
Just like that, Wheaton Warrenville South was up 28-6, and the game was decided.
O’Toole found Kern again for another score in the second half, and Patrick Garner rushed for two touchdowns to put the final touches on the victory.
Kern’s performance was the one that stood out the most on the day. He finished with eight catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s a great player,” O’Toole said of Kern. “He’s easy to find. He never drops the ball, runs great routes. He’s kind of in the shadows of Titus because Titus is such a big-time player. It was just Travis just getting open and making big plays.”
O’Toole, an Illinois recruit, continued his dominant ways. He was 14 of 22 for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
Evin Natick (90 rushing yards) and Phil Jackson (66 rushing yards) led the Panthers’ offense.